November 20th 2023.
If you have ever shared a razor or toothbrush, you may be at risk of hepatitis C. This virus can cause serious damage to the liver, including cancer, and in many cases, can lead to death if left untreated.
Around 70,000 people in the UK are living with hepatitis C and do not even know it. The virus is usually transmitted through blood-to-blood contact, and can be spread through sharing needles as well as razors and toothbrushes.
In order to raise awareness and encourage people to get tested, The Hepatitis C Trust and other health experts are taking part in European testing week. If you think you may be at risk, you can access the free at-home testing service from the NHS.
Keith Hathway, 48, from Bristol, was diagnosed with hepatitis C in 2019. He is now working for The Hepatitis C Trust, helping to spread awareness of the virus. Keith says, “When I was diagnosed, it was a shock. We didn’t know anything about it. It’s so important for people to get tested if they are at risk. I want to show that hepatitis C can be cured and treated.”
The survey conducted by the trust revealed that 63% of the UK population are unaware of how the virus is spread, while 71% do not know its common symptoms. Symptoms of hepatitis C include fever, tiredness, loss of appetite, nausea and vomiting, abdominal pain, jaundice and depression.
Rachel Halford, CEO of The Hepatitis C Trust, said, “With public awareness of hepatitis C so low, there is a lack of testing within the general public – there may be thousands of people who do not know they are at risk of the virus. You can go many years before you experience any symptoms of hepatitis C, so it’s important to get tested. Thankfully, the virus can be cured with a short course of tablets.”
If you are worried that you may have the virus, you can order a free, at-home test at hepctest.nhs.uk. With early diagnosis and treatment, you can help prevent the virus from doing serious damage to your liver. So don’t wait to get tested, it could save your life.
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